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Focus, Focus, Focus – the secret of successful charities?

What makes you want to donate to a specific charity? Clearly a secret that all charity fund raisers would no doubt like to understand. While for many there will be an emotional connection (the popularity in fund raising of cancer and heart disease evidencing I would suggest) once one gets beyond that, the application of personal criteria and likes or dislikes (especially in how charities can “turn off” potential donors) inevitably come into play as many of the entries on Charitybloggers confirm.

Estate agents when asked what make for a good choice of house to own invariably state “location, location, location” and in the same vein I think the key for me is charities who can demonstrate “focus, focus, focus” in what they do. In my case the two simplest criteria under “focus” I can ascertain my inner self responding to are premium and value added application of funds raised (low overheads and evidence of hands on use of the funds and immediate benefits when applied) plus a linkage with innovative and practical uses of such funds. This may in part explain my greater interest in many “smaller” charities where this linkage can be more easily understood allied with certain charities advising what different levels of contribution permit them to apply and obtain in usage (versus telling you what amount to contribute!).

One recent example brought home to me how impressive this can be in moving one to make extra contributions. The charity is the Motor Neurone Disease Association (MNDA), a disease which I have fortunately no family or personal experience of, but from all I read given there is little understanding of its causes and currently no cure (or method of slowing down its development), is devasting in how it destroys the nervous systems of human beings in a short period of time and is effectively a death sentence.

The caring for people suffering as they become infirm and unable to move and lose communication skills, is inevitably a great burden on their family who understandably prefer to keep them at home rather than leave in hospital during such a traumatic experience. The MNDA understanding this and with most sufferers and their family being older has embarked on the provision of establishing a pool of vital equipment that is available on a loan basis to sufferers. The clear implication that many local health authorities cannot easily provide such items on a prompt basis has been responded to by the MNDA providing Riser & Recliner armchairs; suction units to clear saliva through increasing inability to swallow; and Lightwriter devices when voice loss starts.

Such hands on application and direct usage of practical support equipment (which could also be re-used) plus a copy of a letter off a husband whose wife had recently died from MND and was helped greatly by this approach, left me in no doubt that I would make an additional contribution – and also left me feeling that the personal test of “focus” had been fully satisfied!


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